WSET Diploma Unit 5 – Champagne

Champagne, generally
Cool climate and chalky soils – delicate flavors while retaining high acidity
Advantage – higher prices
Disadvantage – others choose cheaper options
Planning, innovation and strategic marketing essential for Champenois to build consumer demand for wines in both mature and emerging markets
13% of global sparkling wine production
Mostly on south, east and southeast facing slopes
Location and size
Northern France, 150KM east of Paris
Champagne climate
Cool continental – considerable vintage variation
Frequent but moderate rains, 700mm per year, avg temp 11*C
1,680 sunshine hours
Champagne climate hazards
June rainfall: interferes with flowering and fruit set, causes millerandage and coulure
Hail: destroy damage and crops, late July 2013 300ha destroyed, 3000ha suffered damage
Frost: spring and autumn, especially spring in Valle de Le Marne
Winter freeze kill outright
Champagne soil
Chalk and limestone
Also marl and sand
Limestone subsoil with good water retention in the summer
Fertilizer necessary as soil low in nutrients
High active lime content, alkaline pH = high acid grapes
Champagne classification
Aire delimitee v production
Aire delimitee: wide ranging area where wines can be made and aged

Aire production: within the delimitee which alone can be planted to champ grapes

Champagne Aire Production
Planted to capacity, looking to expand
Land excluded from 1927/35 app and laws being reconsidered Review in 2011/2015
Champagne crus
Echelles des Crus classifies whole villages, originally for fixed price scheme. EU swept that away leaving the class, but market prices
Grand Cru – 17 villages
Premier Cru – 44 villages
Echelle des crus
In 1911, quality-rated on a village-by-village basis (grand cru, premiers cru, village) – not by vineyard
Slowly, teeth were taken away
Abolished in 2007, but grand cru and premier cru status remains
17 GC (13%)
42 PC (18%)
Champagne grapes
Pinot Noir
Pinot Meunier
Petit Meslier
Pinot Blanc
Pinot Gris — last 4 represent only 0.3% of plantings
Champagne Pinot noir
Best where
38% of plantings
Buds early, prone to frost
Structure and body with ripe berry flavor
Autolytic biscuit with age
Best on cool limestone in Montagne de Reims
Dominant in Côte de bars
Contributes little acidity, moderate alcohol
Champagne PM or Meunièr
Best where
Hardier than PN, buds later, less frost risk, ripens earlier
(good for frost-prone valley floors)
Roundness and supple fruit flavors, richness (earthiness, roundness)
Ages more rapidly than PN or Chard
Damp, clay based soils of Valle Marne
Contributes moderate acid and little alcohol
Champagne Chardonnay
Buds and ripens early, millerandage coulure (susceptible to spring frosts)
Delicate citrus with biscuit and bread from aging (long-lived)
Contributes acidity and alcohol
Best on chalk soils in Cotes des Blancs
also Cote de Sezanne
Traditional champagne
Gouais – white berried – vins de la montagne
Fromenteau – gray/pink berried – vins de riviere
Important Sub-Regions
Montagne de Reims
Cote des Blancs
Vallee de la Marne
Cote de Sezanne
Cote des Bar
Montagne de Reims
Number of grand cru
Known for what
Vineyard location
9 Grand Cru
40% PN, 36% PM, 24% Chard (known for PN)
Northern: fuller body, structured
Southern: more finesse, depth, power, extract
limestone is deeper underground
Côte des Blancs
Known for
82% Chardonnay, 9% PN, 9% PM
6 Grand Cru
Most sought-after
Finesse and delicacy, capable of maturing into creamy intensity of flavor with biscuity, nutty complexity
outcrops of chalk, marl, and limestone
Vallee de Le Marne
Known for
62% PM, 22% PN, 16% Chard
2 Grand Cru
easy-drinking and fruity
chalk with a greater proportion of sand, marl and clay
Côte de Sezanne
What grapes
SW of Côte de Blancs, separated by marshes of Saint Gond
64% Chard, 21% PM, 15% PN
No Grand Cru
richer and rounder, more approachable earlier (so good blending components for non-vintage wines)
outcrops of chalk, marl, and limestone
Côtes de bar
Separate from other four regions
No Grand Cru
112KM SE of Epernay, in Aube department
23% of plantings.
87% PN used for negociants blends
7% Chard, 5% PM
riper, fruitier
pure chalk soil
Champagne viti
Potential alc
Altitude and gradients
10.4 tonnes/HA, min 9%
90-300 meters, upto 60%
High density planting, upto 8,000 vines per ha
Four approved champagne pruning methods
Taille Chablis
Cordon de Royat
Guyot (single or double)
Vallee de la Marne – only Pinot Meunier
Taille Chablis
Cane pruning, up to 5 main branches with 5 buds, max 0.6m above ground
Retains large amount of perm wood (aids frost resistance)
Best for chard
Cordon de Royat
Single cordon, spur pruned, vertical shoots
High perm wood (aids frost resistance)
Replacement cane, vertical shoots
All three grapes, but lesser quality vineyards
Vallee de la Marne pruning
Cane pruning, only for Pm in lesser vineyards
Retains old wood that helps with frost resistance
CIVC (Comite Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne)
Est 1941
Groups growers, co-ops, shippers, houses under auspices of govt
Organizes and controls production, distribution and promotion, plus undertakes research
Before 1990 – set prices for grapes
Still regulates harvest
Financed by levy on production and tax on sales
Responsible for defending the use of the word “champagne”
CIVC on viti
Sets harvest date
Min potential alc
Amount of reserve to keep
Must hand harvest
Champagne press
Trad: Coquard press, vertical basket press holding 4,000kg of grapes (aka Marc)
Modern: pneumatic and hydraulic now used (good hygiene), but hard to improve on vertical press
Whole bunch only
Champagne press limits
25.5hl per 4,000kg or 102L per 160KG
called a “marc”
Champagne, winemaking
A small but increasing number of producers ferment in oak, but most ferment in stainless steel
Fermentation temperature varies from 12 to 25 C.
Most winemakers use cultured yeast developed by CIVC
Most but not all undergo MLF
Champagne press
Cuvée: free run and first press to 20.5hl, rich is sugar and acids, great finesse with long aging potential
Tailee: final 5hl, richer in color pigments and phenolics, more expressive in youth but not as age worthy
Style: Blanc de Blanc
White grapes only, learner and more austere in youth, developing biscuit and hazelnuts with age
Style: Blanc de Noirs
White from black, more golden or pinkish hues with red berry, generally ages faster than bdb
Style: Rose
achieved by maceration or as a blend of red and white wines
Style: Recently Disgorged
Trademarked term by Bollinger, vintage wine with extensive lees aging, disgorge just prior to release
Other producers have to use other terms for wines that have undergone extensive ageing
Prestiege Cuvee
Not a labelling term, but generally describes the best wine(s) in a producer’s range
Only made using grapes from the state vintage
No more than 80% of production in any year can go to vintage wines (remaining 20% must be stored as reserve wines)
Maturation and Storage of Champagne
Non-vintage – min 12 months on lees, 15 months total
Vintage – min 12 months on lees, 36 months total (from tirage)
Particularly sensitive to light
Champagne trade structure
3 parts
15,000 growers who own majority of the land
100+ co-ops playing production role
349 houses responsible for 90% of exports (and 2/3 of all sales)
Very important in handling and processing of grapes
Sell must, base wine (vin clairs) or finished wine
150 co-ops
Produce own wine either independently or with the help of a co-op
Sales of these wines are significant
15,800 of them, and they own 90% of vineyards
Broking companies
Buy finished wines and sell under their own brand or wholesale them to retailers or restaurants who are after own label or exclusive brands
4 main representative bodies of champagne
Comite Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne
Represents who
Monitors what
Created in 1845?
Established in 1941?
Represents the entire trade, growers to shippers to houses
Organizes and controls the production, distribution and promotion of Champagne as well as research
Monitors economic, technical, and environmental development of champagne
Until 1990 – set the price for grapes
Control harvest yields for stable production
Harvest dates fixed by grape variety; in general becoming earlier
Stabilize internal markets, allow fair share for growers and houses
Control volume of harvest for reserve stock (can mandate reserve)
Financed by a levy on production and tax on champagne sales
Syndicat General de Vignerons de la Champagne
Represents who
Active where
Defends and promotes what
Represents growers
Helps define aoc boundaries and production rules
Defend grower interests, business support, economic security, and maximize profits, promote grower champagne
Federation des Cooperatives de la Champagne
Represents who
Regulate what
Secure what
Created in 1939
Regulate economic balance between growers and houses
Secure supply of raw material, promote co op wine, defend in legal matters
Union des Maisons de Champagne
Represents who
Member size
Top members
Created 1882
Represents approx 100 houses (200 more not members)
Global strategy which protects quality of UMC champagne, promote and protect aoc, viti research
LVMH, Vranken-Pommery, Lanson-BBC
Negociant Manipulant : champagne house
299; own 10% of vineyards, responsible for 69% of sales; 87% of exports, 1205 brands
Buy grapes
Recoltant Manipulant : grower produced from own grapes
3208 of these
22% of sales
may purchase up to 5% of grapes
may sell grapes
Societe de Recoltants : 2 or more growers who share same winery to produce from own grapes
Cooperative Manipulant : co op winery
67 who make and sell
9% of total sales
Recoltant Cooperative : grower sells own grapes that are then produced by co op
Seldom encountered
Negociant Distributeur : broker who buys and sells finished wine (but doesn’t make it)
Marque d’Acheteur : brand owned by retailer or restaurant
Champ LVMH
Moët Hennessy-Louis Vitton
1,700ha, 59 million bottles
Moët & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Mercier, Ruinart, Veuve Cliquot, Krug
created and developed Chandon brand
Produces in Argentina, Brazil, US, Australia, China, India
Vranken-Pommery Monopole
254 ha, 20 million bottles, 88% supplied by growers
Up 2.5% in earnings in 2014
Vranken, Pommery, Heidsieck & Co Monopole, Charles Lafitte
Some property in Portugal
Chardonnay dominant with accentuated lactic notes
19 million bottles, 90% from growers
Down 3.7% earnings in 2014
Lanson, Burtin Bessrat de Bellefon, Boizel, Chanoine, Philipponnat, De Venoge, Alexander Bonnet
Laurent Perrier
Founded in 1812
Subsidiaries in UK, Switzerland, US, Belgium
one of the largest family-owned champagne houses
Pernod Ricard
Dom Perignon – person
Improved wine-making
Transformed the Abbey of Hautvillers into region’s leading center of viticultural progress
Importance of British glassmakers
Made stronger bottles that could contain the pressure of sparkling wines
Worried that decimation of English forests by charcoal burners would jeopardize British shipbuilding, Admiral Mansell convinced James I to issue a royal proclamation banning wood-fired furnaces. Coal was the only viable alternative. Coal burns at a much higher temperature, so the glass was vastly stronger.
In an attempt to color glass by adding iron and manganese, the glass became even stronger
Madame Veuve Clicquot
Developed system of pupitres to assist in remuage process
Scientist and minister who understood that sparkling wines owe their tendency to sparkle only to the fact that they have been enclosed in a bottle before they have completed their fermentation
Jean-Baptiste Francois
Enabled winemakers to measure the precise quantity of sugar required to induce second fermentation in the bottle without inducing an explosive force
Champagne, modern history
1917 – Russian market collapsed
two world wars
1890 – phylloxera
1911 – first attempts to define region excluded Aube – near civil war with riots
1927 – region strictly defined
1935 – growers and merchants combined as Commission de Chalons; rallied growers and provided stability
1941 – CIVC formed
Champagne trade
French market consumes 2/3
Traditional brands less dominant in domestic market
140 co-ops represent more than half growers and 1/3 of area under vine
Trade increasingly concentrated with 7 biggest houses accounting for 70% of total
Moet & Chandon
Est 1743, Founded by Claude Moet born in 1683
Acquired land, selling off brands
Still buys many grapes
Over 30 million bottles produced each year
In 1960s and 1970s absorbed Mercier and Ruinart (the oldest firm in the region)
Later acquired Veuve Clicquot and Krug
Today, by far the most dominant group in Champagne
Helped free the market so that prices are not controlled
Ventures in Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Australia, UK
prestige cuvee is Dom Perignon
approachable early, picking up toasty aromas quickly though
Reductive winemaking, full MLF
Dom Perignon (the wine)
1st prestige cuvee
created by Moet — very risky
always vintage
nearly 50% Chard / 50% PN
Always the same vineyards (8GC and 1 PC)
Reductive style
Rich, oak-aged, Pinot dominant
Very old barrels for 6-7 months, deliberately oxidative
Variety of styles
Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc de Noirs – big, chewy, complex; extremely dense plantings of ungrafted vines; ripen early, but cannot be picked until official date, meaning grapes are ultra-ripe; only PN
Charles Heidsieck
master blender, using up to 40% reserve wines
Reserve wines over 8 different vintages
toasty, rich, evolved style
most expensive, least consumed
“multi-vintage” instead of NV
family run for 6 generations (no longer)
all pressings vinified separately, fermented in small old oak
no MLF
long aging on lees
Founded 1812
Fame after WWII
Gradually expanded
Geneally fresh and elegant, Chard heavy from Cote des Blancs
Grand Siecle – multi-vintage (3 years) prestige cuvee, blend of GC Chard (>50%) and PN (<50%), but roughly 50/50.; usually min 7 years yeast contact, manual disgorgement
Founded 1827
Grand marque
Confiscated during WWI (German-run, he had not applied for naturalization)
Changed hands lots of times, now Pernod Ricard
Cordon Rouge – fresh, light, floral, easy-going, rather simple
Est 1811
Belle Epoque – consistent, quality, vintage
Some B.E. Rose and some B.E. Blanc de Blancs
partiallly oak fermented
low dose
may or may not go through MLF
purchased by Bruno Paillard (union battle)
pinot heavy
CLos des Goisses – Single Vineyard
Pol Roger
family run
double cold-settling for cleaner must
very cold cellars – colder 2nd ferment and maturation
hand riddling
Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill – prestige cuvee; few bottles, secret recipe
Louis Roederer
1876 created Cristal (sweet) and it conquered Russian market
known for fine, creamy mousse
Cristal tanked with Russian Revolution 1917
Revived later as prestige cuvee
flat bottom
partial ferment in large old oak
High dose
Needs to age in bottle to develop
oldest sparkling champagne house est 1729
Chard dominant
also owns Dom Carneros
aims for elegance and purity of fruit
Comtes de Champagne – prestige cuvee Blanc de Blancs
almost pure GC and almost pure Cote des Blancs
tiny portion in new oak
Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin
Clicquot widow ran from 1805
grande marque
ample dosage
best when laid down for 3 years
La Grande Dame – prestige cuvee
2014 Champagne Shipments
Bottle count among tiers
307 million btls, up 1%
Houses: 215 million, 70%
Growers: 63 million, 20%
Co ops: 29 million, 9%
2014 Champagne Markets
France: 162 million bottles, 53%
UK: 32 million
US: 19 million
GER: 12 million
Japan: 10 million
Belgium: 9 million

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